A graduate of the University of Worcester is in the running for the world’s top teaching prize, to be announced on March 24th.
Dr Swaroop Rawal, who earned her PhD at Worcester for research in to the effective use of the arts as a tool in education, is among the top 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize, which recognises the work of some of the world’s very best teachers.
The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday, March 24.
Dr Rawal, who entered teaching following a successful career as a Bollywood actress, said: “I am thrilled and honoured to have made the top 10. It is fantastic that the Varkey Foundation is recognising the contribution made by teachers all over the world in this way, and giving them a platform to share their stories.
“I do not work in a mainstream subject like the 3 R’s,” Dr Rawal added. “Life skills tends to get a bit ignored, which is sad because these skills are perhaps the most important skills we need in our lives. Creativity, adaptability, intuition and communication will all be essential skills in the years to come, and I hope that being shortlisted for such a significant prize will help me spread this message.”
Since graduating with a PhD from the University of Worcester in 2006, Dr Rawal has dedicated herself to education, travelling throughout India on a mission to improve the life chances of children everywhere, from wealthy urban centres to isolated rural communities.
“Education is my way to make better the lives of these children,” she said. “I imagine new ways of teaching to enable them to learn well. It is always about the children, and the creation of a safer, more beautiful world.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. I believe in the power of one: one teacher can make a difference. As a teacher, I want to be that change-maker and make the world safer and more beautiful by keeping alive the sense of a possible happiness in my children and me.”
Dr Rawal began teaching later in life, following a career on stage as a Bollywood superstar and success as a model, including being crowned Miss India in 1979.
She initially went in to teaching to help children to become more resilient through improving life skills education, and to devise new methods that would yield better outcomes. For over ten years, Dr Rawal has worked relentlessly in pursuit of these noble aims. Besides her own teaching, she has also developed new methodologies for training teachers, as well as campaigning tirelessly to encourage more children, especially street children and those from tribal communities, in to the classroom.
Dr Rawal’s unique approach, which uses a mixture of drama, song, art, debate and games to inspire discussion and encourage an understanding of the world and one’s own capabilities, has led to a formal partnership with the University of Worcester, to develop a Diploma in Personal Social Education that will be used to help enhance the skills of teachers both in India and the UK.
In 2018, Dr Rawal was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Worcester in recognition of her services to education.
The top 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize were announced by actor and X-Men star Hugh Jackman, who described teachers as “the real super heroes.”
If awarded the US $1 million Prize, Dr Rawal said she would form a think tank to create and promote special curricula for pre-vocational education (PVE) in primary schools in India. This think tank would share findings internationally for use in other countries, where they are directly related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.